More than half your body weight consists of water, making hydration important for your health. When it comes to hydration, water is the best choice. If you exercise at a high intensity for more than an hour, however, in addition to fluids you may also need electrolytes. Both Smartwater and Gatorade contain electrolytes, but for electrolyte replacement after intense exercise, Gatorade makes the better choice.
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Electrolytes are minerals found in your blood that have an electric charge. Electrolytes play a number of important roles in your body to keep you healthy. They help maintain fluid balance, maintain the appropriate acidity of your blood and aid in muscle movement. Examples of electrolytes include potassium, sodium, phosphorus, chloride, calcium and magnesium. You lose electrolytes when you sweat, and they are replaced through the fluids you drink. The more you sweat, as in the case of intense exercise, the more important it is that you get in adequate amounts of fluid and electrolytes to maintain balance.
Gatorade is a sports drink specifically designed for athletes to replace fluids and electrolytes. It also contains carbohydrates to provide energy. An 8 oz. serving of Gatorade contains 50 calories, 14 g of carbohydrates -- all in the form of sugar -- 110 mg of sodium and 30 mg of potassium. If you're concerned about calories and carbohydrates, but still need to replace electrolytes lost through exercise, Gatorade also offers a low-calorie version that contains 20 calories, 5 g of carbohydrates -- all sugar -- 110 mg of sodium and 30 mg of potassium.
Smartwater is not a sports drink but water that contains electrolytes. The electrolytes in Smartwater are added to enhance flavor, according to Lauren Hayward at IowaStateDaily.com, not to act as a source of electrolyte replacement like Gatorade. Smartwater also contains a different mix of electrolytes. An 8 oz. serving of Smartwater contains 0 calories, 0 carbohydrates, 2.5 mg of potassium, 2.5 mg of calcium and 3.75 mg of magnesium.
Your beverage choice after exercise depends on your taste preferences. If you exercise for less than an hour, you can stay hydrated and maintain electrolyte balance by drinking regular water -- tap or bottled -- and eating a balanced healthy diet. However, if you train heavily for more than an hour, and need a quick source of carbohydrates and electrolytes, sports drinks such as Gatorade make a healthy choice. While Smartwater can keep you hydrated, its electrolyte content is low and not sufficient to replace losses after intense activity and sweating.